May 17, 2016 Executive Committee minutes
Attending (those who signed in): Sharon Brinson, Bonita Brown, Gena Carter, Clare Counihan, James Fuller, Chrissie Greenberg, Shayna Hill, Kathy James, Arlene Medder, Natiaya Neal, Kathy Ramsey, Charles Streeter, Ben Triplett, Katie Turner
Chair Charles Streeter called the meeting to order at 11:30 a.m. He invited attendees to help themselves to lunch. He also asked for volunteers to help with the May 25th Chancellor’s Cup golf tournament. Kathy Ramsey, Kathy James, Natiaya Neal, Jo-Ann Blake, and Jim Fuller agreed to help.
The Chair called for a motion to approve the April minutes. Arlene Medder made this motion subject to her submitted edits, seconded by Kathy James. The motion was approved by acclamation.
Shayna Hill and Matt Banks presented the Forum’s monthly budget report. It was noted that the Forum had an extra $2,000 or so in its trust fund account due to money not spent and projected expenses coming in low. The Chair directed that the money go into payments for the July 13th all-day Forum retreat. The committee discussed various packages offered by the Carolina Club, the Botanical Garden, the Friday Center, the Rizzo Center, and the Aqueduct, among others. The Chair asked that the Forum be able to prepay for the retreat in this fiscal year if at all possible. He stated a preference for the Botanical Garden if possible. He noted difficulties in the Upendo Lounge with technical arrangements. Sharon Brinson asked who would be chosen from the list of preferred caterers. Members discussed possible caterers for the Botanical Garden, which all agreed as the desired location. (The Botanical Garden was subsequently occupied and the Friday Center was chosen as the site for the July 13th retreat.)
The Chair asked for feedback on House Bill 2. He noted that the UNC System Staff Assembly will meet Monday and Tuesday to discuss actions by the Faculty Assembly with regard to this issue. There was a general feeling within the Staff Assembly that it should establish a stance for staff, not simply follow the faculty. He asked what the Executive Committee desired to do with regard to this campus, given that the law could impact funding over the next five years. Jim Ferrell thought that these threats amounted to political blackmail. Arlene Medder thought that the arguments of Brown v. Board of Education also applied here. Chrissie Greenberg asked if the Legislature would leverage funding to the University based on its response to House Bill 2. The Chair did not think it would impact the University very much, as the Forum makes its communications to the Chancellor or President. He did not think that the Staff Assembly would take the issue to the media given possible political ramifications.
The Chair said that the Forum needs to let staff know where it stands. Greenberg thought that the ramifications of the University’s international relationships should be known. She said that students at King’s College in London have called for a boycott of North Carolina which has been communicated to the Chancellor and the Chief International Officer. She thought that this call could ripple to other nations. This call will change the dynamic of study abroad experiences for students, also. The Chair said that House Bill 2 will likely impact staff salaries through loss of State taxes due to boycotting industries. He thought that the livelihoods of University employees are at stake.
Natiaya Neal noted that Admissions has received responses from admitted students choosing not to enroll at UNC-Chapel Hill due to House Bill 2 concerns. These students do not want to be associated with the University for this reason. Shayna Hill noted reports that University faculty have hesitated to buy homes and do not plan to stay in North Carolina due to House Bill 2.
Jim Fuller said that in his division, employees do not oppose House Bill 2’s provisions. He said that his daughters do not want a man going to the restroom in the same bathroom as them.
The Chair noted the real financial impact of the Bill and sought to pull the question away from ideology. He would not favor anything that hurts the pay of University employees. He sought to bridge the gap between the two sides and meet in the middle. Ben Triplett said that the Legislature will not likely change its mind until the law goes before the North Carolina Supreme Court. The Chair said that businesses are boycotting the State now, leading to losses of tax revenue, which in turn means layoffs for University employees. It was opined that some decision-makers want to lay employees off anyway, as part of an endgame. Shayna Hill said that the financial impact of the law could lead to loss of jobs through layoffs, potential financial ruin for these affected employees. The Chair said that academic programs could be hurt due to the law’s ramifications. Hill did not argue that the law was ethical but rather worried about the livelihood of employees. Chrissie Greenberg noted a national travel warning about North Carolina. She said that all universities have partnerships with countries in which it is illegal to be homosexual. She said that these partnerships generally hold in spite of these laws. North Carolina is in danger of becoming a target for this kind of cognitive dissonance.
Clare Counihan said that there is a big difference between the State’s status out of compliance with federal law versus the persecution in place in countries like Uganda. She did not think that the economic argument was enough. Katie Turner said that the University and the Forum have a responsibility to look out for the safety of transgendered employees. The Chair noted a responsibility to represent the views of all staff, including campus conservatives. Turner thought that these fears could be rebutted with facts and education.
Counihan asked if an animus to African-American people should be reflected in the Forum’s position should that become a Statewide political issue. The Chair said that he would take such a question personally and not in his position as Forum Chair. He said that the Forum must try to represent the viewpoints of staff without regard to ideology, making sure to represent all sides of an issue. Turner said that there could not be a referendum on civil rights. The Chair reiterated that the proper stance is to protect transgender people while representing conservative views as well. He said that advocacy based on financial grounds could involve all campus staff passionately. Turner said that facts show that transgender people face more violence in bathrooms than cisgender (“those who have “a gender identity or perform a gender role society considers appropriate for one’s sex”) people. The Chair thought that the liberal opinions should not silence other voices. Greenberg suggested advocating safety. The Chair wanted a place in which there could be no argument.
Shayna Hill said that she has a transgender family member. She agreed with the Chair’s argument that Forum should adapt the broadest base argument from a safety and financial standpoint.
Jim Fuller asked how much the ramifications of House Bill 2 will cost the University. Clare Counihan said that the campus climate report will have information about faculty, staff and students attacked with verbal abuse. Natiaya Neal said that campus staff feel offended and do not understand the reasons for the legislation. Katie Turner said that the campus climate does not feel inclusive. Ben Triplett agreed that safety is a concern that would gain traction with the other side. He thought a telling issue is House Bill 2’s removal of authority and self-determination from local groups. Counihan noted that these local groups must still comply with federal law. Triplett said that the Department of Justice is not fighting outsourcing. He thought that the Forum could speak out for the University community to reassure itself.
Katie Turner asked about the Forum’s eventual response. The Chair said that possible responses include a resolution, a letter, or a formal proclamation. He said that he would draft a letter to be sent from the Executive Committee. He said that issues of moral things and ideology could prove a mixed bag in this area. Clare Counihan said that the letter should highlight the ideological decision of the Legislature as well as financial concerns for campus employees. Turner said that the economic boycotts of the University and the safety concerns of campus staff should also have a place in the letter. She said that the financial piece should be only one part of the issue. Chrissie Greenberg said that personal feelings aside, the Forum should try to make sure all of these areas are protected.
The Chair asked if the Executive Committee still wanted a Forum community meeting. He said that Vice Chancellor Matt Fajack is not scheduled to be at the Vice Chancellor representatives’ meeting this Friday. He hoped to have Associate Vice Chancellor Brad Ives and Barnes & Noble representatives at such a meeting if the Executive Committee still wished to hold it this summer. Kathy Ramsey said that the Forum must schedule this meeting by the middle of June to fall in this fiscal year.
Arlene Medder asked about discussions of House Bill 2 at this meeting. Kathy James thought that this subject would be swept aside by Student Stores concerns. The Chair said that he would need to consult with various speakers’ schedules.
Katie Turner asked about discussions of a performance based funding model, given talk of starting pay for adjunct faculty being based on the number of students enrolled. Chrissie Greenberg said that this plan follows the self-funded model for University teaching. Turner asked how funding is determined under such a plan.
The Chair had overheard communications on funding within Finance and Administration underway. Chrissie Greenberg said that State funding cuts of 2-3% along with changes to the funding model place additional pressure on the University.
Kathy Ramsey would take over planning for the community meeting as Forum Vice Chair. She thought that the meeting planning was not firmed up enough to hold the meeting in less than a month. She suggested that the community meeting take place in Bioinformatics or the School of Dentistry to accommodate South campus employees. She said that a July community meeting might conflict with some employees’ vacations. The Chair said that these meetings are typically scheduled around the President’s and the Chancellor’s calendars. Kathy James said that the committee should not choose a date without talking with Forum delegates. Katie Turner did not want Barnes & Noble representatives at the community meeting given the number of employees still outraged by the outcome of outsourcing talks.
Chrissie Greenberg was more interested in developments within Shared Services. Katie Turner praised the idea of inviting President Margaret Spellings to speak and respond to questions in a less controlled environment than she has dealt with previously in her tenure.
Members discussed possible caterers for the community meeting.
Jim Fuller reported that the Carolina Blood Drive committee had met May 10th. He said that e-mails to previous donors and to campus would go out this month. He said that a Red Cross Vice President will likely contact campus leaders to ask for help with the June 7th drive. Volunteers should contact Taylor Libby to help with the drive.
Arlene Medder said that the Carolina Campus Community Garden committee had seen a bigger turnout of third shift housekeepers in recent weeks. The Garden needs more volunteers to work during the summer. The Chair suggested that the Forum hold a service day for delegates on June 1st. He asked Medder to inform Clair Lorch of the Garden about the day of service.
Katie Turner of the Communications and Public Relations committee thanked Kelli Raker for agreeing to serve as the co-chair of that group. She would work on the annual report for the committee, hoping to do a test run before the June 8th meeting. She praised Dawna Jones for maintaining and improving the Forum book club. She hoped that the future would include provisions for the book club. She would have a new edition of InTouch published by the end of the month. She noted that the Forum web page now hosts a good collection of Tweets from Administrative Professionals Day.
Clare Counihan noted that the Education and Career Development committee was in hiatus.
Natiaya Neal said that the Recognition & Awards committee had met that morning to work on selections for the peer recognition and Kay Wijnberg Hovious Outstanding Delegate awards. It was noted that the Carolina Family Scholarship committee will accept applications until June 1st.
Katie Turner asked about the Forum appointing a representative from the Grounds Department to discuss the management of the adverse weather policy on performance reviews. In particular, the “not met expectations” ratings for Grounds employees not able to physically make it to work on adverse weather days had raised concerns. Ben Triplett suggested making Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Services Anna Wu aware of these concerns about work attendance.
Chrissie Greenberg said that the Personnel Issues committee had been approached by a new Forum delegate anxious to begin service. She hoped that the group would rally this year.
The Chair said that he had already reported on developments with the UNC System Staff Assembly. He said that the Ombuds Office plans to address the Forum in June. He reminded members of the Vice Chancellor representatives meeting on Friday, May 20th.
In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 1:11 p.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary